Being Thankful for Growth in the Gospel
(1 Thessalonians 1:1-5)
© 2006 Steve Lewis - contact@SpiritAndTruth.org
Paul's arrival in Thessalonica
- Paul left Philippi under difficult circumstances (see Acts 17).
- Paul had faced two main types of persecution:
Official government opposition was not involved in Paul's early persecutions. In fact, in another place Paul taught that Christians were to be model citizens (see Rom 13:1-7).
The most common type of persecution Paul would face was opposition from the Jews.
- The Galatian persecution = religious opposition from the Jews.
- The Philippian persecution = economic opposition from commercial forces.
Paul's departure from Thessalonica
- Paul leaves Thessalonica because of Jewish opposition (see Acts 17:10).
- Paul leads many to Christ in Berea, probably because the Bereans stuck to what the Scriptures actually said concerning the Messiah.
- Jewish opposition from Thessalonica spreads to Berea.
- Paul is escorted to Athens, while Silas and Timothy remained there (Acts 17:14).
Paul in Athens and Corinth
- Some think Paul sent Silas to Philippi, while Timothy remained in Thessalonica.
- In Athens, Paul talked to the Jews in the synogogue, the people in the marketplace, and the philosophers in the Areopagus.
- Paul traveled to Corinth and met Priscilla & Aquilla.
- Later, Silas and Timothy met Paul in Corinth (Acts 18:5).
Paul received news and wrote his first letter to the Thessalonians
- Paul was in Corinth as he wrote 1 Thessalonians.
- Timothy brought Paul good news of the Thessalonians' progress in the gospel.
- Paul's purposes for writing this letter:
- Paul wanted to encourage the believers.
- Paul dealt with specific issues of concern in the church.
Paul's Opening Address (1 Thess. 1:1)
- Paul's affectionate relationship to the Thessalonians.
- The organization and spiritual situation in Thessalonica.
- Paul's doctrine of the deity of Jesus Christ.
- Paul's normal greeting: "Grace and Peace."
Paul Expressed His Thankfulness (1 Thess. 1:2-3)
- His constant thankfulness was expressed "whenever Paul was at his prayers."
- He "encircled all of them" in prayer.
- Paul kept in his conscious mind at least three specific things about the
Thessalonians as he prayed for them.
- Their actions that were inspired by their faith in Christ.
- Their painful toil and exertion that was prompted by sacrifical love.
- Their endurance under suffering which was motivated by their hope of Christ's
coming (see 1 Thess 1:10) and His bringing them into the very presence of God.
Paul Knows They Are God's Elect (1 Thess. 1:4-5)
- "Since we know by observation" -- a causal participle
Paul uses a strong contrast to say:
FOR ... here is additional evidence for what Paul has just said:
- God set His love upon them (compare Eph. 1:5)
- God chose them to belong to Him (compare Eph. 1:4)
This resulted in "full conviction" -- which describes the nature and effect that
saving faith has in the life of a believer.
- The gospel message does not consist of mere words or of eloquent
speech that informs or entertains.
- The gospel message does involve the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to
understand and respond to the truth of what Christ has accomplished on our
behalf (see 1 Cor. 2:4-5).
Points of Application:
- We, too, should thank God for what He has done for us in loving us, choosing us, and in accomplishing our salvation.
- In order to pray continually and specifically like Paul did, we might want to maintain a prayer list.